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By DAMON LAWRENCE
An unavailable officer led to the dismissal of drunk-driving charges against former Roane County Sheriff’s Deputy Randy Kirby last year.
Kirby was fired by Sheriff Jack Stockton after the arrest last summer.
According to court records, Patrolman Daniel Lantz of the Harriman Police Department was on medical leave and unable to appear in court when Kirby’s case was heard last September.
The order of dismissal was issued by Loudon County General Sessions Court Judge William Russell.
He agreed to hear the case after Roane County General Sessions Court Judge Jeff Wicks recused himself, records show.
A letter from Harriman Police Chief Randy Heidle to District Attorney General Russell Johnson dated Sept. 21, 2007, stated that Lantz would not be able to make any of his cases due to an illness.
Kirby’s attorney, Patrick Cooley, made a motion to dismiss on those grounds. Russell granted his motion and charges of DUI and implied con-sent were dismissed.
“It is therefore ordered, adjudged and decreed that both cases in this matter are dismissed for the state’s failure to prosecute due to the un-availability of the prosecuting officer,” concludes Russell’s order, entered on Sept. 26.
Kirby was traveling on Hwy. 27 on a motorcycle when he was stopped and arrested by Lantz last July.
A signed affidavit states that during the traffic stop, Kirby was unable to hold the motorcycle up, was unstable on his feet, had slurred speech, had an odor of alcohol coming from his breath and refused to submit to a chemical test.
He was fired from his job with the sheriff’s office the same day of his arrest.
“After 20 minutes of talking to him or so, I determined that in the best interest of the sheriff’s office and the policies that had been violated, the best thing for me to do was let him go,” Stockton said last July.
Russell’s order of dismissal noted that the prosecution has the right to present the case to a grand jury within one year from the date of the of-fense if the officer becomes available.
Lantz was fired from his job with the Harriman Police Department in December. He’s asked for a hearing before the Harriman Police Board to contest the termination.
Kirby also was charged with DUI in 2004, after crashing into two parked cars on U.S. 70.
Those charges were dropped, as well, after Kirby contended he had swerved to miss a deer.